Friday, July 18, 2014

Learning can hurt

Learning can definitely hurt.  Your feelings!  Your confidence!  Your sense of creativity!  But it can make you grow....and this quilt has helped me grow in lots of ways.  Although there has been plenty of pain!

I'm so lucky to have mom22smartchix wanting to "invest" in my longarm improvement.  She kindly donated this homespun quilt top for me to "play" on and I decided that I would use each block as a "sampler" of stitches.   That seemed reasonable at first.  And a great "resource".  And it is.  But it hurts.
I chose to use 30wt thread -- which is HEAVY and shows every little glitch.  Basically, it's the thread that is used to topstitch jeans to give you an idea of what quilting with it was like.  I had just heard Angela Walters (who I deeply admire as a longarm expert) say that she didn't rip out stitches if things weren't perfect.  I chose that philosophy on this quilt.  Otherwise, I would have ripped out more than I put in.  Plus, ripping out stitches on solid homespuns is never a good idea.
I learned a lot.  I learned there are some fillers that I can do and want to do again. 
I learned there are some fillers that I am not ready to put on a quilt that I plan to give as a gift.
I learned that I don't know as many fillers as I thought I did.  But I made a few up.
I learned that skinny rectangles don't lend themselves to some stitches.
I learned that I should have been burying my stitches rather than backstitching.  They look like little nests.
But I learned!  And it was humbling.  And it was painful.  And it helped me grow as a longarmer.  

I hope you are learning (even if it creates a little "pain")!!!!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sharing is Caring

While I absolutely agree with this sentiment, I suspect we have all had a child use it to their advantage when we had something they want.  The fun part of that is turning the table on occasion.

But, I've had a chance to share Lola with one of the most important people in my life:  my-niece-the-quilter.
I actually love this quilt -- not necessarily for the fabric choices -- but for what it represents. She has a friend who will be moving to Pennsylvania in the next month or so and wanted to make a quilt from the group of friends. So -- everyone (including kids) were instructed to pick out a FQ of a fabric that had some meaning for them with the departing couple. That is brave -- these are not quilters and one never knows what they will get.

She got hippos that "may" represent when they were pregnant together. She got the logo of a pie restaurant where the two guys were on a first name basis. She got turkeys because two families always spent Thanksgiving Day together. She got pumpkins because they met in a pumpkin patch. She got Harry Potter because one of the children adores it. She got cowboy boots because they bought the first pair of cowboy boots for one of the kids. She used fabric for the border that was the same fabric she had made luncheon napkins for a maternity shower. What a conglomeration. The upside was that most of the fabric were Spoonflower and not cheap see-through material!

I think this is the perfect pattern (don't know the name) for so much variation and the use of Kona gray sashing to help tie everything together -- along with a black inner border -- resulted in a special special quilt.
Add to that, my-niece-the-quilter had only longarmed one quilt years ago. She chose to stipple and did a great job. Learning to stipple and keep it even is not easy but she did it.  

I am so proud of her and love the finished product!

I hope you are getting to share your love of quilting with someone you love!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Quilt Math – an anomaly

Is it me or are there times when “quilt math” is inconsistent?

When I am making 76 blocks for a quilt and I get to #38, I am on the home stretch.  If I’m making 120 four-patches and hit #60, it’s a piece of cake!  I’m currently working on 7.5” log cabin blocks and have to make 64.  I completed #20 yesterday and felt like I am on a roll and this is going to be done in no time.

And then, there is this quilt.  I love it.  But this is block #8 of 16 total large blocks and I am overwhelmed at the amount of work that lies ahead to finish all the applique.  What gives?  Seriously, I feel like I just got started and many of you know this journey started in January, 2011 with a false start on a black background block and I couldn’t stand the lint and show through.  So that block will someday be a practice piece for quilting and become a linty pillow.

I was sure that halfway would motivate me to keep stitching.  As it is, I think I’ll give my fingers a rest and watch the World Cup, do a little long arming, and make log cabins. Maybe when I hit #9 I’ll be “on a roll”!

I hope your quilt math is working out and you are motivated to finish projects you love!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

And then there were 7

....but that means there are 9 more to go.  This is like the never-ending-story!

I hope you are finishing up a project you love -- or still in love with a project that never ends!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Done…and done!

Well, it's done -- and I mean really done.  I had thought I would add some borders out of the neutral sashing fabric but when I auditioned them, they didn't do a thing for it.  They only made it bigger and didn't seem to frame it like I saw it in my head.  So, surprisingly, this lap quilt is finished and ready to be quilted.
Because I chose to go with sashing that finishes at 1/2", I actually lost about 7" across the width of the quilt (compared to sashing that finishes the same size as the blocks -- 3/4").  Don't ask me how I could even think that a 3/4" sashing looked clunky -- but I did.  I made two sample blocks and left them on my design wall for about a week.  Every time I looked at the one with 3/4" sashing, I didn't like it as well as the one with smaller strips controlling the little 4-patches.  Seriously.  It makes no sense to me, either.
I originally thought I would count the pieces in this top and then I thought again.  There are 960 4-patches that finish at 1.5" plus all kinds of sashing strips.  I'm probably better off not knowing.  It finished about 60' x 64' so it will be a good lap quilt with lots of fabrics to look at if I get bored.
The "underbelly" is a bit of a hot mess.  Most of the seams are pressed open -- or at least started that way.  Talk about "the good, the bad, and the ugly!"
As I mentioned in previous posts -- I really like it.  But not enough to do it again!

I hope you are working on something that is unique and challenging!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Extreme swaps!

If you've ever done a swap, you know you are at the mercy of your fellow swappers.  I have done 9 patches, nickels, charms, and these little 4 patches.  In every situation, I have been excited with some of the blocks or fabric as well as amazed that someone thought it was acceptable to include some others in the swap. I have to admit, I am still not over getting a charm square of pool balls that was thinner than toilet paper!
You may remember from previous posts that we had to do 800 4-patches that finish at 1.5".  Tiny little things.  But, when you are dealing with such small pieces, a variation of 1/8" is noticeable. Without showing examples and calling anyone out (including me), let's just say there is a LOT of variation in these.  Anytime you make 800 of anything, it's natural to lose your motivation, your mojo, and your accuracy.  Hence, the sashings help control the little stinkers who are less than accurate.
But -- I love them and this will be different from any quilt I have ever made.  And a few of the swappers are friends and our mutual history together is reflected in some of those little 4 patches.  As an aside, their little patches were just fine.  :-)
On the other side of swapping are these lovely little HSTs.  These were all done with friends and they are great!  We used Edyta Sitar's HST papers with a guideline of batiks in shades of autumn.  What a great way to do a swap.
We all used her papers and the accuracy is great.  Each of us stitched our papers, cut them, and divided them up.  That way, the recipient has to take off the papers, press them, and cut the bunny ears off.  I'm not sure what they will end up in but it's so fun to see them and I am loving that they are all the same size!
So -- two swaps.  Love them both but one requires a lot of finessing and one is ready to go once I get time and decide what to do.  Every swap is a roll of the dice and I think accepting the fact that some items are going to be less than perfect is worth the gamble!

I hope you're finding ways to create!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Last month, I posted about this quilt and the problems I was having with the straight line quilting popping free.  I asked for suggestions about how to fix this and ended up with a lot to consider.
Many people suggested I cross hatch it by straight line quilting in the other direction.  That had never ever occurred to me but the thought of having to do that on my domestic machine was daunting.  And I don't have the right rulers to be able to it on Lola.  

Other suggestions were to repair the straight lines that were pulling and then be done with it.  Let them love it and enjoy it as it was originally designed.  That made me a little itchy because it meant the problem would continue.

Others suggested that I quilt over it on my long arm and then leave in the original stitching.  I so wish I had the ability to do that.  But the old stitching would make me nuts.
In the end, I pinned the quilt on Lola, put in a charcoal thread so I could distinguish from the original black quilting and did some square quilting on it.  I knew I didn't want to do any kind of swirly design that might overlap the original stitching and could be hard to manage.

I quilted it on a Wednesday and it was in the washer Sunday afternoon with all the old stitching taken out.  There were memory lines from the straight line quilting but I washed it again two weeks later and it's almost gone.  Taking out the stitches was relatively easy and a great project for the evening and was a great excuse NOT to be working on a Lollypop appliqué block.
We head to Toronto next week and I'm happy to be returning the quilt within 3 months of bringing it home.  Hopefully it has a number of good years left in it and can provide hours more cuddle time (or tent time for a 3 year old).  In the meantime, you all are an incredible source of knowledge and ideas.  Thanks to everyone that took the time to suggest a solution and give me something to think about.

I hope you are finding easy and right solutions for any problems you may be having!